Midnight madness happens tonight at both Augusta State and USC Aiken as both Peach Belt conference basketball teams open practice.
Doors at both the Augusta State complex and USC Aiken's Courthouse open at 10 p.m. and is free to the public.
Five students at Augusta State will be given $200 scholarships, and food and beverages will be provided. There will be a three-point shooting contest, a dunk contest and three-on-three games for interested students and faculty.
At USC Aiken, there will be a three-point contest between both the men's and women's team, and one face will have the chance to shoot for $10,000.
College basketball also gets under way today with the first-day practices in Atlanta, Athens and campuses around the country.
Paul Hewitt is the new coach at Georgia Tech, where Bobby Cremins ran the bench for 19 seasons before stepping aside gracefully when the Yellow Jackets fell on hard times.
Rolando Howell, South Carolina's prized freshman basketball recruit, will open practice with his team just like coach Eddie Fogler planned after the university cleared him to play Friday.
The Gamecocks' first practice is set for 8 a.m. today. Their first of two exhibition games is Nov. 4. They open the season against Tennessee Tech at the Carolina Coliseum on Nov. 17.
Howell, a 6-foot-9 star forward from Lower Richland High School, was suspended from all team activity since his arrest last month on charges of forgery and conspiracy.
Howell has applied for pretrial intervention, a program for first-time offenders that allows their record to be expunged when certain community service is completed. However, Howell's attorney, Xavier F. Starkes, said this week they have not yet heard from prosecutors if the freshman will be admitted.
Shaquille O'Neal, who came within one vote of becoming the NBA's first unanimous MVP last season, agreed to a three-year contract extension worth the maximum $88.5 million.
"I look forward to ending my career as a Laker," O'Neal said at a news conference Friday at team headquarters. "Having one championship is like having one car -- it's not enough for me. Last year was a start for us."
O'Neal, who led the Lakers to their first NBA championship in 12 years last spring, is now under contract for six more seasons.
The 28-year-old, 7-foot-1, 315-pound center joined the Lakers as a free agent in July 1996, signing a seven-year contract for more than $120 million. He led the NBA in scoring and field-goal percentage last season and received received 120 of 121 votes from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters in the MVP voting, with the remaining vote going to Philadelphia's Allen Iverson.
The Fall Brawl 2000, featuring four mixed martial arts (no holds barred) and seven kickboxing bouts, will be held today at Fort Gordon's Gym 1, beginning at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Mike Ramsey of High Point, N.C., and Adrian Turpin of Starr, S.C., will be among the kickboxing bouts, battling for the International Kickboxing Federation's southeastern regional heavyweight title.
Augusta's Clint Wiggins, a 6-foot-2, 209 pounder, is on the card in a no-holds-barred match that allows the competitor to punch, kick, knee, elbow, execute takedowns and apply joint locks and chokes.
Tickets for tonight's action are $8 for adults ($6 with a military ID) and $3 for children under 12 are available at the Augusta Martial Arts Academy on Roberts Road in Martinez and at the door. Children under 4 will be admitted free.
Preceding the Fall Brawl will be a a daytime karate tournament beginning at 10 a.m. at Gym 1. Registration for the event begins at 8 a.m. Spectators are welcome.
Silver Eagle Speedway in Grovetown will feature vintage car racing along with the regular track competition tonight.
The track also will be saluting a former drivers who have raced at the track over the years. Gates open at 4 p.m., with racing beginning at 8 p.m.
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